When it comes to applying to colleges, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The first step in preparing to apply to college is to understand that if you want to go to college, you will find a school for you. There are over 4,000 degree-granting schools in the US, and almost all of them accept the majority of applicants. Of course, there are elite schools that accept only a small percentage of their applicants, so it is important to be realistic in your college search. Try to match your grades and achievements with the best possible match for you.
Some colleges have specific requirements when it comes to high school coursework. Make sure you are familiar with the requirements of the schools in which you are interested in before applying to colleges, and try to complete these requirements during your junior year of high school. Take the SAT or ACT (or both!) because about 85 percent of schools require one or the other for first-year students. Remember that you can take these tests as many times as you need until you are happy with your score.
College and scholarship search sites are a great resource when preparing to apply to college. Use features that are important to you to narrow your search, such as majors offered, class size and location. Check out the websites of the schools you find; these sites will most likely have application information. Your high school guidance counselor is another great resource when it comes to finding and applying to colleges. When you find schools that you’re interested in, reach out to them for information. They will typically send you a packet of information on their school that will be useful in preparing to apply to college.
Once you’ve collected all the information you need, create a list of every school you are considering. If possible, it is generally recommended that prospective students visit the campuses of schools in which they are interested in at least once. While you’re there, talk to current students in various years to get their opinion on the school. What do they like about it? What do they dislike about it? Try to sit in on a class to get a feel for what the academic life at the school is like. Also, keep in mind that while you may love a school, it’s important to ensure you can afford it. Find out what financial aid options you will have available.
Once you are informed on all the schools that you are considering, compile a list of the top schools that you apply to. Generally, this list should be around six schools: two “reach” schools, two schools you’re fairly certain you will get into, and two “safety” schools. Once you’ve made this final list, you’re ready to begin applying to colleges.
If you aren’t going to apply to colleges in the US soon but know someone who will be, make sure you share this information with them on Facebook.